Criminal Memories

My toenails were getting dangerously long; turning my toes into sharp, weapon-like appendages that could slice sheets and carve flesh. I should have cut them myself, but I felt a strong desire to get a pedicure. There’s something about a pedicure that turns an average day into a day for celebration. A pedicure can heal the soul just as surely as it improves toes’ outlook on the day ahead.

I sat next to another old man who was having a pedicure. Compared to mine, his misshapen, yellowed toenails looked ancient and beyond redemption. Mine are no prizes, but they look like toenails; his looked like genetic mistakes, as if they were pieces of cracked and milky yellow quartz emerging from a bed of incompletely formed flesh. I would not recommend hanging a photo of those nails above a fireplace. I drew some assumptions about the guy, both from his horrid nails and from his disturbing habit of speaking on his cell phone while the nail technician worked on his feet. Those assumptions were not positive. They were judgmental. I feel embarrassed to have judged him simply because of his physical abnormalities and his ungracious intellectual babblings that, because of changes in his voice while speaking, often seemed to me (and the technician) that he was asking her questions.

I, on the other hand, had a nice conversation with my nail technician (is that what they are called?). She used to live in Garland, Texas (grew up there, in fact) but moved to the HSV area about six years ago. She misses the easy access to “everything” in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, especially Asian restaurants and food stores with Asian ingredients. She and I share those big, gaping holes in our experience. Based on several comments she made, I think I would enjoy going to her house for dinner. I think I might even enjoy chatting with her husband and her college-aged daughter and tenth-grade-level son. But who knows, in reality? She may think of me as just another geezer who tries unsuccessfully to engage with people several generations younger. Geezerhood can be a tricky situation; we can think we’re in touch and in-tune, when in fact we’re deservedly the butt of jokes. Yet no one will tell us; we have to find out on our own.


I watched three more episodes of Goliath last night. My IC watched just one, opting to go to bed much earlier than usual because she has not been getting enough sleep. The series is becoming more and more intriguing to me, even though I have not completely suspended my disbelief in the premise of the program and its ongoing set of strange circumstances. Though I try to avoid it, I keep seeing aspects of myself in Billy Bob Thornton’s character; sometimes, reality hurts. He thinks and acts younger than his age, which describes me in many situations; he looks older than he is and is accordingly as fragile as he looks. Me, again, in some senses. He surrounds himself with beautiful women. Bingo.  I’ll keep watching. Once hooked, one cannot turn away.


This morning, as my IC and I chatted over breakfast, we talked about incidents in our past that remain top-of-mind. One such incident for me involved one of my brothers. It was the hostage-taking by Fred Carrasco in 1974. When Carrasco shot himself (I gather), he did not die right away, as I recall. He was taken into the prison unit’s infirmary, where then-director of the Texas Department of Corrections medical team, Dr. Gray, and my brother worked to try to save him. At least I think it was Carrasco they worked on. At any rate, my brother was there at the time. And he was there when the eleven-day siege ended. Ach! I remember than. And I remember another incident, in Dallas, when I did a “ride along” with a Dallas police officer. During the ride-around, a call came in about an unwanted visitor in a woman’s apartment. We went there and entered the apartment, along with other officers. The cops were talking with a guy on the couch when, suddenly, “my” cop quickly stepped forward, leaned down, and snatched a gun from the guy’s waist-band. I had not even seen the gun before. The couch guy did not seem even slightly perturbed by the confiscation of his gun. Wow. I hadn’t thought about that in years.


This morning, I got up extremely late: right around 7. Yet here I am at the keyboard, occasionally nodding off. I have to correct this. I will do something to resurrect my energy. I just don’t know what it is. But something.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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